BellSouth: 10 Digit Dialing Are we stupid or what?

Revised 05/15/02: Spelling Grammar and other stuff fixed.

Recently Bellsouth forced us to start dialing a 10 digit phone number instead of the 7 digits we were all use to. The reason was simple. We are running out of numbers. I gave this some thought came to the conclusion that we must be stupid to accept this as an answer. The one thing we are not running out of is numbers.  Don’t believe me? then read on:

A 7 digit number can have 10 million possible combinations. Is it possible that we have 10,000,000  phones in this county? There are more than 1,700,000 people in Broward and more than 600,000 business. Each business on average has 2 lines. That means we have 1,200,000 phone numbers allocated to businesses. So out of more than 10 million numbers we are only using 3 million. Hold on! What about those cell phones? Ok let’s say each person in Broward County has a cellphone. That means another 1,700,000 numbers in use. That is still less than 5,000,000 numbers.

The limitation cannot possibly be numbers. It must be something else. Bellsouth tells us that we can’t use all of these numbers. Some numbers beginning in “0” for instance will screw up their equipment. Their equipment will think that you want to make a long distance call, even though you are not dialing  more than 7 numbers for a local call. So the real problem here is their equipment. 

Speaking to some of my friends showed me to what extent people will make excuses for the phone company.

One friend said ” You can’t blame them, it costs lots of money to run a telephone company”.

I answered: “They got a lot of money.”

Another even went out of his way by saying:  “They must have a good reason why they have to do it. I am not sure of the reason, but they got to have a good one anyway. Why else would they force us to dial 10 digits? Even our Social Security number is 9 digits. ”

Precisely. Everyone living in the United States is given a social security number with only 9 digits. That means there are over 1 Billion possible combinations. 10 Digits should give you 10 billion telephone numbers. 

I want to speak to my friend across the street. I forgot about the 10 digit stuff and started to dial the old 7 numbers without the area code. The computer at the phone company in a female voice  says to dial the number plus the area code.  So I dial the number for my friend across the street but use 1+ the 10 digit number. Now the computer’s female voice tells me I don’t need to dial a ‘1’ at the beginning, doesn’t let my call go through, and blasts a beeping noise through the earpiece of the telephone.  If it knows that I dialed a ‘1’, why can’t the phone company just connect me to my call?  Why can’t Bellsouth’s computer just say:

  “Oops…Silly you! You dialed a ‘1’ by mistake. However, I am a computer and know that you made a mistake. Don’t do it next time. Just to be nice, I will make sure that call goes through anyway. After all, I am a computer.”

Instead, it gives you the ‘you don’t need to’  message and then blasts the loud beeping noise to make you feel even more stupid.  As far as I’m concerned, dialing the 1 is doing the telephone company a favor. It is using 11 digits instead of 10. That way they have 100 billion numbers to use. (Hey, isn’t their only 5 billion people on the earth?)

The telephone company tells us that the reason for all of these changes is that the cell phones are using up all the numbers. Then why not give the cellphone users their own are code instead of making all of us having to dial 10 digits? I think it is because the main problem of the telephone company has nothing to do with the numbers. It has to do with their old equipment and their refusal to modernize.

Dialing 411 is another stupid thing. The telephone company goes out of their way to hide numbers from us so that we have to use 411 and pay for it. We pay almost $1.00 a call for this information. I think that we should pay $100 a call for information, but the information should be worth the money. How about calling up directory assistance and ask who should you bet on in the upcoming world series. That is information you really want to pay for.

Why can’t the telephone company know what state or city I live in when calling for directory assistance. I dialed 411 and a computer asked “What State?” . Then “what city?”. What kind of computer does the telephone company have that can’t recognize caller ID?

Don’t blame the telephone company for our stupidity. We after all actually believe the phone company when they tell us that they are running out of numbers. What they are really doing is running the numbers on us!



Your points were well taken. Here’s one you omitted: When calling across the street in Coral Springs I have to dial the requisite 10 numbers. However, when dialing Boca Raton I’m only required to dial 7 numbers. They have a totally different area code for god’s sakes. I’d like someone from the tel. company to explain that to me. Steve F.


Author: HelpMeHoward